One of the many joys of being a dog owner is taking your pup to a dog park. Many dogs spend hours a day by themselves while their owners are at work, so the chance to run off leash and play with other dogs brings out in them a happiness that is infectious. Seriously, in a way that should by no means be an indication of the rest of my life, sometimes the best part of my day is going to the dog park with my hounds.
If you are lucky enough to have a dog park in your area, consider yourself fortunate. Many times, dog parks face opposition from community groups citing concerns from noise to impact on landscaping. These concerns are understandable and easy for dog owners to address.
4 Steps For An Awesome Day At The Dog Park
1. Pick up after your pup. This is the first rule for a reason: it’s the biggest pet peeve of dog parks. No one, even dog lovers, wants to find an unpleasant surprise on the bottom of her shoe, left by your dog. While many dog parks supply waste disposal bags, always bring your own, just in case.
2. Limit the barking. Dogs need time and space to be dogs. For city dogs especially, the dog park is one of the few places where it’s completely appropriate for them to bark, howl, and yip away. Barking is natural, is not necessarily aggressive, and is a part of dog play. However, excessive barking is disruptive to others in the area and should be curbed. All dogs are different and may be prone to barking over different things: a toy, another dog, or treats. Know what is your dog’s trigger and be prepared to remove it or to distract your dog to stop incessant barking.
3. Keep dogs in dog area. While some dog parks are fenced facilities, others are not. And while some people enjoy dogs and do not mind a pup bounding toward them, others do not. An open dog park does not mean that dogs are free to run anywhere, and people in other areas of a community space have the right to enjoy it as they would like.
4. Keep children calm. Just as other areas of parks are off-limits to dogs, dog parks not play areas for children. Including children on trips to the dog park is a wonderful way to help them bond with the family pet and introduce them to other types of dogs. It is important for children to act and speak calmly while around dogs, to avoid exciting the dogs. Children should avoid running or bringing non-canine toys in the dog area, as these can lead to confused dogs and scared children.
Again, if you are fortunate enough to have a dog park in your area, be a good steward of all dogs and their owners everywhere. And, if you don’t have a dog, but do have a local dog park, stop by some afternoon. I can guarantee you’ll leave happier.